12 February, 2007

Outstanding Warrants

Outstanding Warrants.

When we are convicted of an offence by a court, we are usually fined. The court orders that if we do not pay our fine by a certain date, we are to serve one month or whatever behind bars. If we do not pay our fine in the designated time, the court issues a warrant to the police to pick us up and take us to the prison. Most people pay once they learn the warrant has been issued. If the person is off-island or the warrant cannot be served for some reason, it is returned to the court with an endorsement explaining. The warrant does not remain indefinitely in the possession of the police as an unserved warrant.

In Bermuda there are nearly 10,000 outstanding warrants.

In the Bahamas, an inventory of outstanding warrants revealed some 32,243 outstanding warrants issued in connection with traffic offences.

You might ask what is so bad about an unserved warrant. If the warrant is not served, and it is not returned endorsed with a note that it cannot be served for some reason or the other, it means that some police officer has decided to give the offender a break. It becomes a police officer who decided who goes to jail and who does not. What a lot of power to put into the hands of a police officer! As if they do not have enough already! It is hard to imagine a more corrupt situation!

In all my years in Anguilla I have never heard a public reference to the number of unserved criminal warrants. No one publishes this information. One might think Anguilla doesn't have any, although of course that's impossible. Is this information a State Secret, or can someone publish it? Better still, can we get to know which convicts have been sentenced by the court who have been given a break by the police?

How does it benefit the people to withhold this information? Of course, it does not. The situation will not improve until we ensure that the control of the police is taken out of the inefficient and usually incompetent hands of the Governor and his indespensible crony, the Commissioner of Police, and placed in the hands of a local, independent, non-political Police Service Commission.


  1. First of all let me say this am English, I speak english, I read english get this comments register in english. Thank you!

    Now, Mr Mitchell I disagree with your comment. I do not think the Police is the ones who determine who pay their fines and who dont.

    I have dealt with the court on numerous occassions where court fines are concerned and from my observation I know that the offender receives the fine in court, it is logged in a book at the court, the offender has a certain amount of time to pay, however, if the offender does not have the money right away to pay he/she is given a period of time extra to pay piece piece until they are finished as long as they are making the effort.

    Some offenders do take advantage of this situation and allow the time to lapse on the payment of their warrant.

    Now from my observation I see something that should be happening and probably dont: The Court working with the Police should be relaying to them on a monthly basis the amount of court fines outstanding and issue a warrant for the arrest of the offenders owing for these warrants.

    The Po po alone cant be blame for outstanding warrents everybody got to work hand in hand therefore you cant cast blame at the end of the rope you have to start at the beginning.

  2. The point is this. The court imposes the fine. When the fine is not paid the court issues a warrant for the offender to be picked up by an officer and taken to prison. The court expects the officer to pick the offender up. If he cannot be found, the officer is supposed to return the warrant as unserved. The officer is not supposed to put the warrant away in a desk drawer as sometimes happens.

    The question is, does this happen in Anguilla as it happens everywhere else? Unless there is a report on unserved warrants published from time to time we will never know. The point of this post was to show that such reports are made in other islands. The information is kept secret in Anguilla.



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